Ross Nichols, who I would describe as one of the founding fathers of modern Druidry, in his book “The Book of Druidry” describes it as:
“Druidry is the western form of an ancient universal philosophy, culture, or religion, dating back from the days of early man where the three were one. It is of the stone circle culture, the groves of scared trees, the circular dance.”
I am a Bard within the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). The Bards were the keepers of tradition, of the memory of the tribe – they were custodians of the sacredness of the Word. They held the knowledge of the language of the trees, the Ogham alphabet.
It is commonly accepted that the most likely derivation for ‘Druid’ is from the word for oak, combined with the Indo-European root wid – to know, giving their translation of the word Druid as ‘One with knowledge of the oak’ or ‘Wise person of the oak’. Those who possessed knowledge of the oak possessed knowledge of all the trees. The Druid was one with ‘knowledge of the trees’ and was a ‘Forest Sage’.
Trees feature significantly within Druid lore: In Cumbrian dialect, ‘seel’ is the willow. In Druid lore, two scarlet snake eggs were hidden within the willow tree. From them hatched the Universe, from one egg the Sun, from the other the Earth.
I am a Hedge Druid, that is, someone who walks the Druid path, for the most part, alone. The term ‘Hedge Druid’ means someone who “rides the Hedge”, who travels between this world and the Otherworld. This Otherworld has important significance in Druidry, at certain times of the year, the veil between this world and the Otherworld is at it’s thinnest, and the Druid can cross over.
There is a story of the Otherworld from Joanna van der Hoeven’s book “The Book of Hedge Druidry” :
In the Irish tales of Fion McCumhill’s travels, he comes upon ‘the Man in the Tree’. This man has a blackbird on his right shoulder, while in his left hand he holds a bowl of waterin which a trout is swimming. At the base of the tree stands a mighty stag. Cracking nuts, the man in the tree gives half to the blackbird, half to himself. From the bowl he produces an apple, half for the stag, half for himself. He drinks from the bowl so that he, the blackbird, the trout, and the stag can all drink together. In this story we see all parts of the Otherworld together through the symbolism of the man in the tree – the blackbird symbolises the Upperworld, the stag the Middleworld, the fish the Lowerworld.
The Book of Druidry by Ross Nichols, 1990
Druid Mysteries by Philip Carr-Gomm, 2002
The Book of Hedge Druidry by Joanna van der Hoeven, 2019
Further info: The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Link: https://druidry.org/